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December 30, 2014: Following an injunction won by PETA, the 2014/2015 Possum Drop in Brasstown, NC will not feature a live possum. This is not, however, a complete victory as the injunction requires a state permit to use a live possum. Possum Drop organizers told the Associated Press that they simply didn’t have time to get one this year. Please continue to sign and show your support for a complete end to the Possum Drop!
Goal: 75,000 Progress: 58,880
Sponsored by: The Rainforest Site

Large crowds, live music, and loud fireworks — it would have all the hallmarks of a typical New Year’s celebration, if not for the terrified opossum dangled in a cramped box over the cheering mob. This is Brasstown’s annual “Opossum Drop,” which adds a North Carolina “twist” on the prominent ball drop in Time Square. (See the video under “More about this issue” for a first-hand look.)

In recent years, event organizers have faced increased pressure from animal advocates, culminating in a lawsuit that prevented use of a live opossum in the 2013 event. Not to be deterred, State Representative Roger West (who also happens to sponsor the Opossum Drop) introduced a bill (HB 1131) “to exempt Clay County from state wildlife laws with respect to opossums between the dates of December 26 and January 2.” The bill became law in June 2014.

An implicit acknowledgement that the event violates the state’s existing wildlife laws, this law sets a poor precedent, prioritizing personal and commercial interests over animal welfare. Worse still, this “family friendly” event teaches young kids in attendance that it’s okay to masquerade animal abuse as entertainment.

This leaves us until the end of the year to let North Carolina’s General Assembly know we don’t tolerate this brand of animal cruelty. Fortunately, a trio of Senators that serve on the state’s Environment Committee also voted against this awful piece of legislation. Sign below to stand behind them and call on a law to repeal SL 2014-7.

Sign Here

Dear Senators Jeff Jackson, Trudy Wade, and Angela Bryant:

As members of the state’s Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources, I am writing to you to ask you continue standing up against animal cruelty in all of its manifestations. Specifically, this is a request to repeal SL 2014-7, which permits Brasstown, NC to continue using live opossums in their annual New Year’s celebration, the “Opossum Drop.” All but the event’s most ardent supporters recognize this façade for what it is — animal cruelty masquerading as entertainment.

The Opossum Drop is especially dangerous in its depictions of animal cruelty. Billed as a “family friendly” event, the celebration dresses up torture and animal abuse in a veneer of frivolity that belies the tragic underpinnings of the event. Each year, organizers capture and confine the typically reclusive marsupial in a cramped space where it is left to dangle above thousands of cheering onlookers as they celebrate with loud music, fireworks, and even musket fire.

Concerned citizens are dismissed as hippie killjoys out to ruin a town tradition in the name of political correctness. But “tradition” often serves as a last refuge for anachronistic practices that fall from social favor. Opossum Drop’s defenders are particularly disingenuous, ignoring the fact that the event was fabricated in 1990 as a desperate marketing ploy for the tiny Appalachian town. Since then, the event has quickly enshrined a public display of animal cruelty that now enjoys state protection.

Those same supporters also argue the captive opossum receives better treatment than a wild opossum and then is released back into the wild after the event. Yet reams of evidence and experts counter that the abducted mammal suffers potentially lethal trauma from the exposure and likely perishes shortly after release. Opossums are nocturnal creatures that prefer dark and secure areas — not a Plexiglas case left hanging above a rambunctious crowd during a fireworks show.

A replica could easily stand in for these unfortunate opossums and prevent any potential for abuse — not to mention the mounting cost of legal battles in courtrooms and the state legislature — while carrying on the tradition. In fact, true adherents should recall the very first Opossum Drop used a ceramic replica and only later introduced the live opossum.

As it stands now, Opossum Drop’s only legacy is one of animal cruelty, teaching future generations that such mistreatment is not only tolerated, but actually encouraged. The punchline of many jokes, it’s easy and even tempting to dismiss the troubles of this solitary marsupial. It gives me some hope to see a small enclave of reason and empathy operating in an environment dominated by personal and commercial interests.

Please, do what you can to convince your colleagues and your constituents that SL 2014-7 is a shameful law and needs repealed immediately.


(The Undersigned)

Petition Signatures

Jul 30, 2015 Parvirtre Roodal-Arjoon
Jul 30, 2015 Laura Christie
Jul 30, 2015 Sandra Bowen
Jul 30, 2015 Vivian Gonzalez
Jul 30, 2015 Gina Piantedosi
Jul 30, 2015 Cathay Kramer Sending the wrong message to our children. the event has quickly enshrined a public display of animal cruelty that now enjoys state protection.
Jul 30, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jul 30, 2015 Tatjana Kink
Jul 30, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jul 29, 2015 Katy Martin
Jul 29, 2015 Lehadus teo
Jul 29, 2015 martin Foster
Jul 29, 2015 RACHAEL PAZ
Jul 29, 2015 jeri lovell
Jul 29, 2015 Brandi Locricchio
Jul 29, 2015 aaron allen Lets stop this from happening once and for all!
Jul 29, 2015 Carla Dias
Jul 29, 2015 Alexis Rocha this practice is insane. Stop the insanity.
Jul 29, 2015 stephanie wray
Jul 29, 2015 ALISER ANGEL
Jul 29, 2015 Ashley Ely
Jul 29, 2015 Allison Westrick
Jul 29, 2015 p Morton Stop the cruelty!!!! Ignorance at its finest....
Jul 29, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jul 29, 2015 eva brodovsky
Jul 29, 2015 Melissa Mendell
Jul 29, 2015 Lisa Marrs
Jul 29, 2015 tricia eline
Jul 29, 2015 Sharim Frangos
Jul 29, 2015 Adrienne Kristine Really? In 2015? You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Jul 29, 2015 Abdullah ibn Musa Islam
Jul 29, 2015 Shabnam Shahrooz
Jul 29, 2015 Maria Rojas
Jul 29, 2015 Lynsey Kelly
Jul 29, 2015 Anna Golebieski
Jul 29, 2015 Judith Linden This is awful! NC is now off my list of places to visit. I hope others will boycott.
Jul 29, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jul 29, 2015 Raf Quinonez
Jul 29, 2015 Cathy Gottschalk This animal abuse leaves me with a bad impression of North Carolina
Jul 29, 2015 marlene almstead please stop tormenting innocent animals
Jul 29, 2015 Elisabeth Wouters
Jul 29, 2015 Kris Cox
Jul 29, 2015 p vollmar
Jul 29, 2015 David Lawrence Reed "A custom more honor'd in the breach than the observance"--renounce animal cruelty, North Carolina, and turn your attention to traditions worth preserving (the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, for example, now discontinued after 37 great seasons....)
Jul 29, 2015 Katarina DURJAK
Jul 28, 2015 Mary Craver
Jul 28, 2015 Kim Steinbruck Good God! What the heck is wrong with people.
Jul 28, 2015 Stephanie Corona
Jul 28, 2015 Debbie Flynn
Jul 28, 2015 Nancee Webb Please stop this stupidity.

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